Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton announced Thursday a proposal to “right the wrong” that he said was created when gay and lesbian service members were dishonorably discharged, saying that, if elected president, he would have the Pentagon review their cases to potentially retroactively change them to honorable discharges.
“If you were kicked out of the service because you’re gay or you engaged in homosexual activity, then we are going to right that wrong. We’re going to restore your discharge, upgrading it to honorable discharge if you received an other-than-honorable discharge or dishonorable discharge because of just who you are,” Moulton, a veteran who served in Iraq, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
According to Moulton’s campaign website, since World War II, “more than 100,000 gay servicemembers” have received less-than-honorable or dishonorable discharges from the military because of their sexual orientation, including those who were discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. As a result, those veterans were not eligible for GI benefits and the the discharges could “negatively affect” their employment prospects and put them at an increased risk for homelessness, the campaign said.
“They’re not getting benefits they deserve. They’re not getting access to the GI Bill. Their legacy for the families, for those who passed on, is tarred by this government, by this American mistake,” Moulton told CNN.
Currently, veterans have the ability to appeal their discharge status because of DADT’s repeal, according Moulton’s plan. But “the burden of initiating that review rests with the veteran,” something his plan would change.
Under the plan, the Pentagon would work to make sure veterans who retroactively receive a honorable discharge “understand their new benefits, and in the case of deceased veterans, the military records of individual servicemembers will be updated to reflect the change to honorable discharge,” the campaign said.
“It takes a lot of courage to fight. It takes even more courage to fight while hiding a part of who you are,” Moulton said Thursday.